New Delhi, Jul 16 : The government on Thursday slammed Pakistan for intimidating and distressing imprisoned Indian citizen Kulbhushan Jadhav during the consular access granted to its officials.
Calling Pakistan “obstructive” and “insincere”, the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi said that the consular access was “neither meaningful nor credible”.
In a statement issued by the ministry, government spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that the Indian consular officers were not given unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional access to Jadhav.
“On the contrary, Pakistani officials with an intimidating demeanour were present in close proximity of Jadhav and the consular officers despite protests from the Indian side. It was also evident from a camera that was visible that the conversation with Jadhav was being recorded,” the statement said.
“Jadhav himself was visibly under stress and indicated that clearly to the consular officers. The arrangements did not permit a free conversation between them. The consular officers could not engage Jadhav on his legal rights and were prevented from obtaining his written consent for arranging his legal representation,” it added.
In the light of the circumstances, the consular access being offered by Pakistan was neither meaningful nor credible, the government said, adding that the Indian consular officers left the venue after lodging a protest.
“It is clear that Pakistan’s approach to this matter continues to be obstructive and insincere. It has not only violated its assurance to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to fully implement the 2019 judgement, but also failed to act in accordance with its own ordinance,” the spokesperson said.
Pakistan Army has alleged that Jadhav is an Indian spy involved in violent activities in Pakistan. In April 2017, Jadhav was sentenced to death by a field general court martial. However, a month later, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) stayed the hanging of Jadhav.
Last year, the ICJ directed Pakistan to allow consular access and effectively review the death sentence, but rejected India’s appeal for Jadhav’s release.
Over the past year, India has requested Pakistan more than 12 times to provide unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional consular access to Jadhav, who remains incarcerated in Pakistani custody since 2016.
“This consular access is of utmost importance, as it is the basis for a process of effective review and reconsideration ordered by the ICJ in July 2019 of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav by a Pakistani military tribunal.”
In May 2020, Pakistan passed an ordinance, “ostensibly to comply with the order of the ICJ,” the government said. The ICJ verdict allowed for the consular officer of the High Commission of India to file a petition before a high court for relevant review and reconsideration.
“In that context, the contacts and conversations between the consular officer and Jadhav assume great importance. Any conversation between them must necessarily take place in privacy and without the presence of any Pakistani official or recording by Pakistan,” the government said.
It is only then that Jadhav can speak freely without any concerns of reprisal as he remains in Pakistani custody after the meeting, the ministry said.
“It is already evident that Jadhav has been intimidated repeatedly in the past, including in being made to express his alleged disinclination to seek a review,” it said.
India recently requested the Pakistani side for an unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional consular access to be provided on July 13.
“Pakistan was asked to ensure that the meeting is held in an atmosphere free from fear of retribution and without the presence of any Pakistani official in the vicinity of Jadhav and the Indian consular officers. Pakistan was also requested to not record (video and audio) the meeting,” the ministry said.
After extensive discussions, the Pakistani side conveyed that it was ready to organise consular access on July 16. The government said it was assured that the consular access would be unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional.
“On the basis of this assurance by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, two consular officers of the High Commission proceeded to the meeting with Jadhav. Regrettably, however, neither the environment nor the arrangements of the meeting were in accordance with the assurances of Pakistan,” the ministry said.
Union External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has apprised the family of Jadhav of the latest developments, the spokesperson said. The government also reiterated its commitment to ensure the safe return of Jadhav to India.